“The facts set forth before the Court portray reactive governance — responses to address a chaotic circumstance of the Government’s own making… They belie measured and ordered governance, which is central to the concept of due process in our Constitution. . . . Extraordinary relief is requested, and is warranted under the circumstances.”
– U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw, ruling for the children and parents
Yesterday people turned out in over 750 rallies and marches around the the country, ranging from gatherings in small towns to tens of thousands of people in major cities. We came together to demand that the Trump regime immediately reunite the children it has ripped from their parents arms, that they abandon their plans for indefinite detention of migrant families in camps – and that they cease to demonize asylum-seekers who come asking for our help.
We did this because we can imagine our own children being taken forever from us and when we see it done to others, it breaks out hearts. We did this because we remember what has happened when tyrants demonize a group in order to seize power for themselves. Many of us did this because our own parents fought a great war so that kind of dictatorship would never rise again. And we did this because if we don’t act now, our great nation itself may well be lost.
We’re facing a man and his party who are destroying our government, tearing asunder our society, assaulting our allies and embracing our enemies. Having lost not only the presidency but both houses of Congress in 2016, our representatives are sorely limited in the actions they can take to protect us. And now this past week, the Supreme Court appeared to be failing, as they upheld Trump’s religious discrimination against Muslims through his travel ban, assailed the rights of unions and left racist redistricting in place. Then came the news that Anthony Kennedy would step down from the bench, allowing Trump to name his replacement.
This is a fight for our lives and for the lives of our children and grandchildren. If that sounds like hyperbole, you really haven’t been paying attention – and you absolutely must now. We are in unknown territory. Maybe it felt that way to our ancestors, too. In the Civil War, during World War II. That they weren’t sure of the way or of success. But that they knew the only path was forward and that they would fight with everything they had. So must we.
So what can we do? Several things, I think.
First, we have to insist on and know the truth – and share it with others. Part of Trump’s strategy is to attempt to control perception with non-stop lies and to sow uncertainty for those who can’t be so easily hoodwinked – to, in Steve Bannon’s words, “Flood the zone with shit” (hello, Rudy Giuliani!). The uncertainty then causes people to check out, because they don’t know what to trust or because they’re too confused. The antidote is truth and clarity, properly disseminated. Don’t repeat the lies and don’t merely try to debunk them (which strengthens them through repetition). Think of a “truth sandwich”: tell the truth (“immigration and compassion strengthen our country”) – debunk the lie (“Trump is demonizing innocent mothers, fathers and children”) – then tell the truth again (“We’re a country of laws, and of compassion”).
Second, make noise. A hell of a lot of it. And don’t stop. We’re not going to get legislation passed right now that will protect us. But what we must to is to show that there are many, many people who care about America and insist on defending it. We can do this by showing up for marches and rallies. We can do it by calling our representatives – even when we know they already support what we care about, because doing so strengthens their resolve and gives them evidence of the power behind them.
We can do this by boycotting or protesting companies that undermine our country, like for-profit prisons and arms manufacturers. We can do this by writing comments to articles or letters to the editor and by using social media to spread the word. We can do this when we talk to our friends, neighbors, relatives. Trump has a huge platform and uses it cleverly, sowing outrage to grab headlines. But he’s a minority president* (the * is because he cheated to win) and we’re the majority. By making ourselves visible, we make our movement strong and change the conversation.
Third, work like the dickens to get Democrats elected in red districts. We must take back the House at a minimum – and also the Senate, which will be harder but not impossible. If you’ve never done this before, don’t worry. Most of us haven’t, but it’s not that hard. There is something that will be a fit for you, whether it’s writing postcards in a group or from your home to prospective voters or learning to text- or phone-bank. It could be registering voters or canvassing (going door to door). Or perhaps fund-raising and donating to candidates. The main thing is to find something that you can and will do, get connected to those of us who are ready to help, and get going. We have just over 120 days until the midterm elections and we need every single hand on deck.
Fourth, grow the wave. The more people who join us and take action, the more we can do, both now and in November. Find two friends (though you don’t have to stop there) and engage them to join the effort. Then get them to do the same – and so on. We need to make this movement as big, loud and powerful as we possibly can.
Finally, stay in the fight. It’s heartbreaking, discouraging and frightening to face the tyranny of Trump and his white grievance party (surely they’ve ceased to be Republicans). But if it weren’t, we wouldn’t be fighting for the soul of our country. None of us wanted this and none of us chose it. Instead, it chose us. As Karen said at our last meeting, “Do not be afraid of what history is asking of you!”
Know that the depths of your feeling about this danger are a measure of your love and deep passion for our country and its future. That they are your greatest strength and what will connect you to others to get this work done. Know that we’re in this together. Support others and ask for help or a pause when you need it. Be kind. And, be fiercely determined. As Sara Danner Dukic writes:
Because: when something is irrefutably good, honest, and human, it's an enormous threat…by their very nature, autocratic regimes are not equipped with sufficient flexibility or institutional and individual self-awareness to survive by negotiating with people power at the moment of greatest threat...when it becomes obvious that it poses an existential challenge to the regime.
So, take heart. And let’s make our goodness, honesty and humanity that existential threat that banishes fascism from our door.
In Other News
- On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw ordered the Trump regime to return all separated migrant children under the age of five to their parents within fourteen days and all the remaining children within thirty days, calling the separations “so egregious, so outrageous, that it may fairly be said to shock the contemporary conscience”. Nearly a week later, no children had been reunited with their parents. Instead, the Department of Justice argued on Friday that they should be able to detain migrant families indefinitely. This is against the law.
- As the Supreme Court’s session came to a close, they upheld racist redistricting in Texas, gutted the ability of public sector unions to charge union fees to “free riders” enjoying the benefit of collective bargaining without paying for it, and upheld Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban, ignoring Trump’s explicit attacks on the Muslim religion underpinning his ban.
- To top it off, the next day Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, setting up Trump to name another justice. A doctrinaire conservative court will almost certainly overturn Roe v Wade and that will only be the beginning. Another concern is that the pick will allow Trump to select a justice who may well rule on the president* himself: his breaking of the emoluments clause, obstruction of justice or conspiracy against the United States, all of which seem by now clear, if not definitively proven. This would be completely wrong. However, it will take the defections of two Republican Senators and complete Democratic opposition to scuttle any appointments.
- By the end of the week, it was discovered that Justice Kennedy’s son had for years been Trump’s personal banker at Deutsche Bank, approving $1B in loans at a time when no other bank would loan to Trump. Deutsche Bank was also accused during the same period of laundering $10B of Russian money.
- Over the course of the week, Harley Davidson announced that it would ship jobs overseas because of Trump’s’ tariffs. In response Trump attacked the firm and threatened it “with taxes like never before”. Trump also lied that he had talked to the head of U.S. Steel who had told him they would open six new plants. The call never happened. GM announced that tariffs would cause it to shed jobs and for the cost of cars to go up by thousands of dollars. And at week’s end Canada announced $12.6B of tariffs on U.S. products – which will augment the spontaneous boycott of American goods already underway. Trump remains obstinate and ignorant, insisting he will “win”. Good luck with that.
- No surprise there: the House failed to pass an immigration bill that had been both supported and dismissed by Trump. And more Scott Pruitt ethics violations were discovered.
- Five journalists were gunned down at the offices of their paper, the Annapolis Capital Gazette. The shooter was disgruntled about past coverage of him. Around the nation, journalists considered the shooting an attack on journalism itself – a job that has become far more perilous under Trump.
- Global temperatures continued to rise. We are quickly running out of time.
- Intelligence reports indicated that North Korea was working to conceal key aspects of its nuclear program as it continued to move full speed ahead. “There is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea” (DJT) seems so June 13th.
And Some Excitement
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez beat incumbent Representative and House heir-apparent Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th Congressional District primary. She’s an exciting, 28-year old Democratic Socialist who ran a brilliant campaign that featured one of the year’s best ads so far. The ability for the party to welcome a diverse group of candidates who represent and reflect their districts and constituents and bring fresh energy and ideas will be critical to our success this fall. So excited by her win!
In closing, hopefully we can bring an end to the recent long and unnecessary handwringing episode over “civility”. Among a number of excellent rebuttals, perhaps the best was here. We don’t need to help Sanders, Trump or any of them by treating them as victims. They do enough of that by themselves and playing the “civility” game with them just means we will always lose. It’s time to stop playing and to keep the focus on the evil they are committing every single day. Saving the country from falling into totalitarianism isn’t going to be delicate and we’re not always going to know how to do it at first. What matters is that we’re trying as hard as we can and that there’s nothing more important, including manners. Get used to it.
– Tom Benthin
A reminder: a key resource for tracking all the abnormal events from the past week of the Trump presidency is Amy Siskind’s Weekly List: theweeklylist.org .
Before the disaster of the 2016 election we could follow the events that affected our lives by checking the news or seeing occasional posts on Facebook. Since then, with Trump’s erratic, aggressive and autocratic behavior and the Republicans’ unceasing attacks on our government and their efforts to transfer ever more money from working Americans to the rich, it has become much more difficult – and more important – to find our way through the weekly onslaught of news. To get ourselves grounded in the facts and to prepare for the week of action ahead, we provide this weekly summary of critical events to help us cut through the distractions and stay focused and informed as we fight to preserve our democracy.